NAUGATUCK — Thomas Conway Jr. held many different positions during more than 26 years in the Naugatuck Police Department. He was a patrolman, a detective, a member of the youth division, evidence control officer, court liaison and, briefly, a bicycle patrol officer.
Conway said he would ride his bicycle to visit borough schools, where he interacted with children and teenagers. That experience, along with his time coaching youth sports in his hometown of Thomaston, led him to retire this month to take a job as a school resource officer at Newtown High School.
“After a lot of years being a police officer and moving on, I was a little nervous, but this is the right job for me and I think Newtown is the right school system for me,” Conway said.
Conway has been working for a couple weeks at his new job, where he said he gets to spend time with teens the same way he did in the borough and Thomaston. Despite the shootings two months ago at nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School, Conway said the atmosphere at his new job is not much different from other high schools.
“They’re all really good kids,” Conway said. “These kids are just doing their everyday stuff.”
By the time Conway retired, he was the detective in charge of preparing and storing evidence. As court liaison, he was also responsible for bringing paperwork and people being held in lockup to Waterbury Superior Court. Officer Rob O’Donnell has taken over Conway’s responsibilities.
Conway, 50, will make an annual pension nearing $78,000.
During his time in the department, Conway processed evidence from several major cases, including the 2005 killing of a woman on Olive Street, which remains unsolved. Conway also worked on the 2008 case of a woman found strangled to death in a van on New Haven Road. Police determined she had been killed by her ex-boyfriend, who committed suicide the next day. The same year, Conway processed evidence from a home invasion on Spring Street, which landed two men in jail.
“It’s exciting to be involved with cases like that, but there’s victims on the other end,” Conway said. “You see both ends of this job. You see somebody that lost a loved one who’s upset, and you see somebody getting arrested and their family’s upset.”
Conway said he decided to be a police officer because it is a public service job, like that of his father, former state Rep. Thomas Conway.
“I wanted to just follow suit, where I help people with their everyday problems,” Conway said.
His new job allows him to spend more time with his wife of 24 years, Jeanne, and their three daughters ages 21, 18 and 14. Conway said he is grateful for his wife’s support during his years as a borough officer, which had him working a lot of nights and overtime.
The plus side, Conway said, was befriending countless people in the borough.
“The town is a great town, overall a tremendous town, and I’m going to miss everyone,” Conway said.